IDs help homeless turn a page

2017-09-05 06:01
Some of the local homeless people in Woodstock who are being helped to get IDs.

Some of the local homeless people in Woodstock who are being helped to get IDs.

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The Woodstock Improvement District (WID) is helping homeless people get their IDs and birth certificates.

About 23 people have already been helped in the three weeks since the initiative was started.

Abigail Abrahams, social officer of the WID, says with this they want to empower homeless people in the area and they plan to do this every few weeks as more homeless people are brought to them for help.

She advises members of the public to play a part in making sure that all needy people get help.

“If you know someone who needs assistance, direct them or take them to the WID offices on 172 Victoria Road, Woodstock.”

The WID is passionate about empowering these individuals and making it possible for them to take this step in the right direction, she says.

“It is a priority for us to get the homeless into a job or on a grant, so that they can afford a shelter or alternative accommodation. This uplifts the community. In essence, more people with ID documents will mean fewer people on the street,” she adds.

Chris Lloyd, WID general manager, explains that before the process of applying for an ID document starts, each person is screened.

He says: “This step reveals critical information like where they came from and where they live now, if they previously had ID documents, and if they have a birth certificate. Once the screening is complete, Abrahams escorts them to home affairs.”

He says some of the homeless locals do not have IDs because they were never registered, perhaps because they were born on the streets.

Some have had theirs stolen or removed with their belongings, either by officials or other vagrants.

Lloyd explains that the main reason that homeless people do not have IDs is a lack of money to apply.

“Many of them can’t get work because they need ID documents and don’t have them. If they can’t work, they can’t pay to stay in shelters. More than that, a lot of shelters expect ID documents before they can take them in. The vicious cycle continues,” he explains.

Sheila Jacobs, manager of the Haven night shelter in District Six, says an ID is of great value to a homeless person.

In many ways, it is their hope for a better future, Jacobs says, because without IDs they can’t apply for grants or formal work.

Paul Abrahams, one homeless man, says: “I’m excited to have started the process of getting a new ID. I was very disappointed when I found out from home affairs that my details aren’t on the system, but I’m really glad that I’m being assisted. I’d like to find work once I have it – that’s a real priority for me right now.”

V For more information email Abigail Abrahams at abigail@wid.co.za.

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